Don’t call him “Teddy” edition
- No one called him “Teddy” to his face; the nickname he preferred was TR.
- TR claimed he decided to be a Republican after watching Lincoln’s funeral parade from his grandfather’s Manhattan townhouse.
- Frightened of his activism, the Republican party decided to “hide” Roosevelt on McKinley’s ticket in 1900
- Roosevelt’s Progressive politics can be traced to the time he spent representing a poor, predominately immigrant district in the New York legislature
- It was TR that ordered Commodore George Dewey’s squadron to the Philippines in anticipation of war with Spain
Always be ready to use the Big Stick
Filed under Ephemera, News
Why did the British lose the War of 1812… consensus history teaches that the Napoleonic wars kept mighty England from crushing the upstart Americans. As expected, consensus historical lessons are wrapped too tightly, strangling the complexities from our past. America won the war, but Britain lost it just as much. We cannot pin this all on the French.
Right on the nose !
- Poor strategy and execution– As in the Revolutionary War, Britain attempted a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy. Simultaneous invasions would divide American forces and allow the British to defeat the disorganized American armies. Unfortunately, the invasions were far from timely; poorly organized and executed, British forces were unable achieve any strategic success during the invasions of upstate New York and Maryland. The third invasion at New Orleans ended in disaster. The first graduates from the American military academy (like Winfield Scott) were able to rally American forces, including the unreliable militiamen, to resist the uncoordinated assaults.
- Political disunity– The government of Spencer Perceval had taken a stand against American attempts to trade with France their during the war. Perceval’s ministers enacted the Orders in Council and did little as the tensions with America continued to rise. Diplomats serving in Washington did a poor job communicating Britain’s positions on key issues. Perceval’s assassination on May 11, 1812 brought to power Lord Liverpool, who sought to ease tensions with America. The repeal of the Orders in Council just two days before America’s declaration of war was not accepted by all British ministers. The disunity in Liverpool’s government continued as the hostilities escalated.
- Swatting flies– The British military machine was not built to fight an enemy like the United States. The British army was recruited and trained to fight on the sweeping fields of Europe, not the wilds of North America; geography proved to be a keen enemy in both wars Britain fought in America. The small, but powerful American fleet did not give the Royal Navy its Trafalgar of the west. The power frigates of the US fleet held their own in ship to ship combat. These small victories boosted American morale during the dark days of the conflict. The British dependence on its Indian allies on the frontier proved as detrimental as in the Seven Years War. The United States used its home field advantage to keep the British war machine from operating efficiently.
No contest, one on one.
But it is said that we are not prepared for war, and ought therefore not to declare it. This is an idle objection, which can have weight with the timid and pusillanimous only. The fact is otherwise. Our preparations are adequate to every essential object. Do we apprehend danger to ourselves? From what quarter will it assail us? From England, and by invasion? The idea is too absurd to merit a moment’s consideration. –Henry Clay, 1811
Jefferson wrote to friend and newly-elected President James Madison… in 1809 “We should then have only to include the North(Canada) in our confederacy, which would be of course in the first war, and we should have such an empire for liberty as she has never surveyed since the creation…”
An empire for liberty
As Madison prepared the country for war with Britain… the acquisition of Canada was not far from his mind. Many felt it should have been seized during the Revolutionary War. British possession of Canada guaranteed their continued proximity and potential interference.
The conquest of Canada
Madison agreed with his friend and mentor… that a new war with Britain could settle old scores and solidify our control on North America. Madison responded, ” The conquest of Canada will do this…”
William T. Sherman was born on this day… in 1820. Reviled by southerners to this day, nonetheless, Sherman stands as an American military icon. His doctrine of total war has been tossed aside as an aberration, American military personnel have been paying the steep price for ‘partial war’ ever since. Sherman realized that fighting a war in enemy territory meant not only facing the rival combatants, but also the hostile populace as well. Sherman knew an army had to ‘Go Roman’ or go home, ” You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it”
“My aim then was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us”
Sherman also hated politics and never blurred the line… between civilian and military authority, “The carping and bickering of political factions in the nation’s capital reminds me of two pelicans quarreling over a dead fish.” Several efforts were made to get Sherman onto a presidential ticket following the war, but he always resisted. Unlike many of his peers, Sherman accepted his place as a soldier, “I hereby state, and mean all that I say, that I never have been and never will be a candidate for President; that if nominated by either party, I should peremptorily decline; and even if unanimously elected I should decline to serve.”
This proclamation has been quoted by politicians from Lyndon Johnson to Dick Cheney.
Historians are often baffled by James Madison… In 1787, there was no stronger voice for nationalism and strengthening the federal government; yet, by 1790 he was battling one-time ally, Alexander Hamilton over the very powers they helped create. Madison had become an advocate of limited government in less than a Presidential term. What happened?
With friends like these…
Madison was the “Father of the Constitution”… and creator of the Bill of Rights- the commonly held description of our most overlooked Founder. We view this change in his political outlook as inconsistency, or even a problem. This opinion hangs on the assumption that Madison was responsible for the final draft of the Constitution. He authored the Virginia Plan, the radical framework that altered the course of the 1787 Convention. Of the document produced in September, Madison said, “It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many hands.” Most historians assumed Madison was being modest- in fact, he was expressing his displeasure with the process. Madison wanted a Federal government that could control the wildly inconsistent passions of state governments, but he did not advocate a massive consolidation of power.
Author of the Virginia Plan
Federalist #10 is Madison’s warning about… the dangerous passions that consumed state governments. From 1784 to 1787 he toiled in the Virginia legislature, witnessing the worst governance(or lack thereof) he could imagine. The Federal government he envisioned would temper these passions(and blunders) and provide the regulation to help the Union move forward. Madison opposed Hamilton’s financial programs because he feared they brought the same economic passions driving policy in the states into Congress. The very threat Madison looked to alleviate caused his split Hamilton. Madison remained consistent to the end.